June 13, 2019

A Look Back at Manhattan School of Music’s Centennial Season


Manhattan School of Music celebrated its 100th anniversary with a variety of unique events throughout the 2018/2019 academic year.

The season of special events and performances to mark this auspicious landmark included a four-concert Opening Day festival; the reopening of the fully renovated Neidorff-Karpati Hall and new campus entrance; and — the culmination of the year’s celebrations —a Gala Concert at Carnegie Hall.

This milestone season was also celebrated with concerts that highlighted works composed by noted alumni; works that had their first performances at MSM; and celebrated pieces written and/or premiered around the time of the School’s founding.

MSM Centennial celebrations by the numbers:

3 Marquee Centennial Events
12 Special Centennial-Themed Programs
14 Compositions Linked to MSM’s History and 1918
38 Total Concerts Celebrating our Centennial
45 Alumni Guest Soloists and Master Class Artists
50 Works by Alumni / Current & Former Faculty / Students

“Our 100th-anniversary season shines a light on our prodigiously talented student artists (from more than 50 countries and nearly every state), world renowned faculty, special guests, and master class artists as they continue to bring thrilling life to a repertoire of classical, jazz, and musical theatre works.”

President of Manhattan School of Music

Opening day of our Centennial Season began early and humlbly with fanfares and symbolic trips to MSM's first two homes: the building at 238 E. 105th Street, now home to Park East High School (pictured); and the Union Settlement House on East 104th.

Season Opening Mini-Festival

On Friday, September 28, a day-long series of four concerts showcased the full range of genres taught at the School, from classical soloists and chamber music to jazz and musical theater.

A new work for our Percussion Ensemble by Mike Perdue (MM ’11), inspired by Stravinsky’s "L’Histoire du soldat" (A Soldier’s Tale), was performed exactly 100 years to the day that Stravinsky’s piece was premiered.

The mini-festival culminated in a performance before a capacity-crowd at neighboring Riverside Church of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, featuring the MSM Symphony, choruses, and a distinguished gathering of alumni and faculty soloists. The Beethoven 9 is historically significant for the School as it was performed in 1970 at MSM’s dedication concert for John C. Borden Auditorium (recently renamed Neidorff-Karpati Hall). Also on the program was To Music by alumnus/former faculty member John Corigliano. Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra Roderick Cox, recent recipient of the Solti Award, conducted.

Beethoven soloists Elaine Alvarez (BM ’02, MM ’04), Ronnita Miller (MM ’03), Bryan Register (MM ’94), and faculty member/bass James Morris; Roderick Cox, conductor.

Re-Opening of Neidorff-Karpati Hall

On November 17 and 18, glittering, multi-artist concerts concluded the $15-million, 16-month Centennial Project, which brought a sweeping renovation of the School’s flagship performance hall (formerly Borden Auditorium, renamed to acknowledge Noémi K. and Michael Neidorff’s anchor gift to the project); a newly expanded lobby; and a grand new Claremont Avenue entrance.

Director of Orchestral Activities George Manahan (BM ’73, MM ’76) conducted a wide-ranging program that concluded with Leonard Bernstein's “Make Our Garden Grow.”

Gala Concert at Carnegie Hall

Guest conductor Leonard Slatkin (HonDMA ’13, MSM Distinguished Visiting Artist) led a once-in-a-century musical celebration of MSM’s Centennial. The remarkable evening featured a program of classical, jazz, opera, and musical theatre compositions performed by a roster of artists drawn from the distinguished ranks of the MSM Community.

Highlights of the April 17 Gala included:

— Celebrated mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (MM ’87, HonDMA ’08) singing Berlioz;

— Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard (HonDMA ’17, MSM Board of Trustees) performing one of his compositions;

— Violinist and former New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow (Chair, MSM Orchestral Performance Program) and Naumburg International Violin Competition Prizewinner Kelly Hall-Tompkins (MM ’95, HonDMA ’17) playing Vivaldi;

— Award-winning pianist Olga Kern (MSM faculty) and “Formidable pianist” (New York Times) André-Michel Schub (MSM faculty);

— New York Philharmonic organist and acclaimed choral conductor Kent Tritle (MSM Director of Choral Activities);

— Guitar faculty members David Leisner and Mark Delpriora (BM ’82, MM ’87);

— Vaughan Williams’ ethereal Serenade to Music with 16 vocal soloists;

— Selections from MSM’s 2019 Musical Theatre productions;

— Numerous other alumni guests (mentioned below).

Terence Blanchard (far right) performs at Carnegie Hall with current MSM students from the Jazz Arts program.

Celebrating Our Composers

MSM’s Centennial Season has honored a heritage of creative output that has produced numerous premieres and new works, with compositions by current and former faculty and alumni such as David Noon, Robert Sirota, Aaron Jay Kernis (BM ’81), Susan Botti (MM ’90), Reiko Füting (DMA ’00), and Anna Clyne (MM ’05), to name a few. The season also featured works by faculty and alumni Vittorio Giannini, John Corigliano (’63), Ludmila Ulehla (BM ’47, MM ’48), Nicolas Flagello (BM ’49, MM ’50), Adolphus Hailstork (BM ’63, MM ’65), Tobias Picker (BM ’77), Ursula Mamlok (BM ’57, MM ’58), John Musto (BM ’76, MM ’80), Rupert Holmes (’67), Ned Rorem (HonDMA ’00), and Elias Tanenbaum, among others.

Composer Anna Clyne (MM '05) acknowledging applause from the Carnegie Hall Gala audience after the playing of her "<<Rewind<<" by the MSM Precollege Philharmonic.

An Opera Scenes program in November presented selections from two operas given their World Premieres at MSM: Marc Blitzstein’s The Harpies and Scott Eyerly’s The House of the Seven Gables.

Current composition student Elliot Roman wrote a piece for chorus based on the School’s Latin motto, “Macte virtute sic itur ad astra,” and Jazz Arts student Matt Wong had his Subconscious Development for wind quintet and jazz combo premiered by ensemble-in-residence Windscape.

In March 2019, MSM master's student Matt Wong (stage left) introduces his new composition inspired by his experience at MSM. The work was commissioned by MSM artists in residence, Windscape (center), and performed with several of Matt's classmates from MSM's Jazz Arts program.

Music written and/or premiered around the time of the School’s founding in 1918 — including Igor Stravinsky’s Ragtime, Frederick Delius’s A Song Before Sunrise, and Giacomo Puccini’s Suor Angelica — was programmed. The season included music by Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial birthday was also celebrated this season, and by Claude Debussy, who died in 1918.

Puccini’s "Suor Angelica," premiered by the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, was presented by the MSM Opera Theater in December.

Special Programs

Tributes to the School’s history were presented in several Student Project in Performance presentations and faculty recitals. Other special events included a reopening concert of the expanded Solomon Gadles Mikowsky Hall featuring pianists who studied with Solomon Mikowsky at MSM; a musical celebration of faculty member Pinchas Zukerman’s 70th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at MSM; and the 10th Anniversary Contemporary Performance Program’s Alumni Showcase. Faculty member Lisa Yui (DMA ’05) presented a program exploring the lineage of piano at MSM, with special focus on former faculty members Dora Zaslavsky and Constance Keene.

Produced by MSM resident historian John Blanchard, this 14-minute video was premiered at Lisa Yui's "Lives of the Piano" October event; it traces Dora Zaslavsky’s legacy back to her studies with Harold Bauer and MSM founder Janet Daniels Schenck, and examines Constance Keene’s influence throughout her life.

Featured Alumni Performers

Peppered throughout the Season were appearances by other celebrated alumni returning to their alma mater as guest soloists and master class artists. These distinguished guests included pianist Kirill Gerstein (BM ’99, MM ’00), violinist Elmar Oliveira (BM ’72, HonDMA ’85), pianist Yuan Sheng (MM ’03), percussionist Jan Williams (BM ’63, MM ’64), actor/baritone Shuler Hensley (BM ’90, HonDMA ’14), soprano Stacey Tappan (MM ’97), tenor Simon O’Neill (MM ’00), baritone Justin Austin (BM ’14, MM ’17), soprano Elaine Alvarez (BM ’02, MM ’04), mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller (MM ’03), tenor Bryan Register (MM ’94), pianist Simone Dinnerstein (Precollege), violinist Jesús Reina (BM ’09, MM ’11), violinist Bela Horvath (BM ’06, MM ’09), violinist Asi Matathias (BM ’11, MM ’14), violinist Anna Margrethe Nilsen (BM ’10, MM ’12), and members of Imani Winds.

Current and former students of Pinchas Zukerman honored their mentor on March 20.

The Carnegie Hall Gala Concert featured over 350 musicians, drawn from the ranks of MSM’s faculty, students, Board, and numerous MSM alumni, including:

  • Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (MM ’87, HonDMA ’08)
  • Violinist and new faculty member Kelly Hall-Tompkins (MM ’95, HonDMA ’17)
  • Conductor George Manahan (BM ’73, MM ’76), MSM’s Director of Orchestral Activities
  • Mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges (BM ’09)
  • Baritone Yunpeng Wang (MM ’13)
  • Mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis (MM ’12, PS ’13)
  • Pianist Dominic Cheli (BM ’14)
  • Guitarist and faculty member Mark Delpriora (BM ’82, MM ’87)
  • Guitarist John Bogan (BM ’17)
  • Tenor Blake Friedman (MM ’09, PS ’10)
  • Pianist Thomas Lausmann (PS ’00)
  • Precollege conductor Nathan Hetherington (MM ’04, MM ’06)
  • Tenor Philippe L’Esperance (MM ’17)
  • Tenor Joshua Sanders (MM ’17)

President Gandre holds a proclamation from the Office of the Mayor naming April 17, 2019 “Manhattan School of Music Day” in the City of New York.

The 100th Anniversary of this remarkable institution allowed MSM to celebrate the dedication, talent, and vision that have brought the School to its current place among the world’s great music conservatories, and marks an auspicious beginning to its next 100 years.

Manhattan School of Music Centennial Concerts in The Riverside Church, Neidorff-Karpati Hall, and Carnegie Hall.